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What you need to know about the final walk-through

Make sure everything is OK before closing a

Make sure everything is OK before closing a deal in buying a house. Credit: Dreamstime

The offer is accepted, the contract has been signed and the closing date is scheduled. One of the last steps before a home purchase is complete is the walk-through, which is almost always done shortly before the closing.

Here are some things to keep in mind for the last visit to the home before it’s all yours.

Check that everything works

“Make sure the house was in the condition it was when you decided to buy it,” says Gale Keenan, an agent with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Manhasset.

Many agents keep a checklist for buyers to consult, but the idea is to check everything to see that it is working. That means ringing the doorbell, running every sink, bathtub and shower, flushing the toilets and making sure there is hot water and turning on all the appliances, including the washing machine and dishwasher, making sure the water drains properly.

Agents advise people to check that outlets are working. A cellphone charger is a handy way to do it.

“I’ve had buyers who will bring a night light and plug into every single outlet,” says Maggie Keats, an agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Port Washington. “I had a closing three weeks ago [of] a little house. There were four outlets in one bedroom and . . . one of the plugs didn’t work and [the buyers] threatened not to close. A contractor fixed it for $2.50 and, luckily, it didn’t hold up the sale of the $650,000 house.”

Sometimes damage occurs when the buyer moves out. Keenan recalls a seller who had a heavy bedroom safe, and the movers were carrying it down a curved staircase when it crashed into the wall.

The seller “was quick to say we will either fix it ourselves or have it fixed,” Keenan says. “There’s usually money held to cover something that could happen.”

Make sure repairs have been made

While it’s not mandatory, some buyers bring a home inspector to the walk-through if there were things identified in need of repair during the earlier home inspection.

“If items came up in the engineer’s report, make sure they’re addressed,” Keenan says. “If it’s not done, take a photo of it so the attorneys can figure it out.”

If the repair was not completed, money would be held and the buyer would have it done and submit the bill to the sellers, Keenan says.

If there is a repair rider, or a list of things mutually agreed on for repair, have the listing agent or homeowner show receipts for the work, says Fran Saer, an agent with Coach Realtors in Stony Brook.

Fixtures should remain; possessions should not

Buyers should make sure that built-ins, such as light fixtures, ceiling fans, air conditioners and other things that are physically attached to home, remain.

“Make sure to check in the attic because sometimes people leave things,” Saer says.

When the seller retains possession after closing

Occasionally, a home sale will close and the seller will retain possession so they have the money to purchase their next home and also time to move out.

Keats advises buyers to do a walk-through before the closing and after the buyer moves out, though that may not always be possible.

“Sometimes it’s impossible because the house is loaded with boxes,” Keats says. “Money will be left in escrow in case anything happens.”

Ask the sellers questions

If the seller is present, it’s always a good idea to ask if there’s something you should know about the house, Keenan says.

“Every house has a quirk to it here or there,” Keenan says. “It’s good if the sellers are there because no one knows more about the house than the seller. It shouldn’t be adversarial.”

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